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S.D. v. M.J.R.

2 A.3d 412 (2010)

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S.D. v. M.J.R.

New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division

2 A.3d 412 (2010)

Facts

In July 2008, Moroccan citizens SD (plaintiff) and MJR (defendant) participated in an arranged marriage while living in Morocco, as part of their Muslim faith. Shortly after the marriage, SD, MJR, and MJR’s mother moved to New Jersey. In November, MJR physically, sexually, and emotionally abused SD for the first time after SD was unable to prepare a Moroccan meal. The abuse continued throughout the next few weeks. About three weeks after the first incident of abuse, SD escaped through a window and traveled to the nearest hospital to receive treatment for her injuries. SD then began staying with a Moroccan nurse. SD informed the nurse that she was pregnant with MJR’s child. The nurse brought SD to the Imam of a mosque, who persuaded SD to reconcile with MJR. In January 2009, SD moved back in with MJR. MJR immediately began abusing SD and then requested a divorce. SD petitioned for a restraining order against MJR pursuant to New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA). At the time of SD’s petition, the state had criminal charges pending against MJR. The family court held a trial on the matter of the restraining order. SD testified about the abuse that she had suffered. The Imam testified that, under Islamic law, a wife is required to fulfill her husband’s sexual demands. The judge concluded that MJR had harassed and assaulted SD but refused to issue the restraining order on the ground that MJR lacked criminal intent because he had acted in accordance with his Muslim faith. The judge also explained that MJR’s actions showed a bad patch in the marriage and that the restraining order was unnecessary because there had been a no-contact order entered pursuant to the criminal charges against SD. The matter was appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Payne, J.)

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